Home > Album cover art > Great covers: Josh Rouse – 1972 (2002)

Great covers: Josh Rouse – 1972 (2002)

Josh Rouse marked his 30th birthday in 2002 with an album inspired by the year of his birth. It might easily have turned out as a pastiche of the worst clichés. Happily, it didn’t: the sound is contemporary. Rouse evokes rather than recreates what he imagines were the sounds of 1972. Imagine the concept as the subtle but essential spice in a delicious meal. The album borrows its influences wisely: James, a song about alcoholism, is a psychedelic soul workout, with Jim Hoke’s excellent jazz flute and Rouse’s falsetto positioning the song closest to 1972. Elsewhere, swirling strings and saxophone (also by Hoke), handclaps and Latin percussions serve as a marker for the ’70s influence being filtered through Rouse’s sound.

People of my age, who were little kids in ’72, are likely to associate the era with sunshine (it never rains in nostalgia, except when rain was a reason to feel good). The album, and especially the title track, captures that summer feeling; a sound of sunny carelessness even when the lyrical subject matter is heavy.

While musically 1972 is not a work of retro recycling, the cover is an artful facsimile of early ’70s sleeve art. The colour scheme — yellow, brown, light-blue, orange — could work only in the ’70s; the curves and variety of groooovy and sensible typefaces; and the tracklisting on the front cover are a true throwback; and the pic of Rouse, with the cap, completes a faithful recreation of 1972, all the time remaining just on the right side of overcooking the retro concept (which in less skilled hands might have included a platform boot here and an Afro there).

The album is one of my favourites of the decade; the cover one of my favourites of all time (even if the chat-up line in the otherwise excellent Under Your Charms is breathtakingly cheesy).

Josh Rouse – Sparrows Over Birmingham.mp3
Josh Rouse – Under Your Charms.mp3

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  1. June 29th, 2009 at 07:16 | #1

    At first glance, I thought that was Phil Ochs staring back at me.

    At second glance, I still think it’s Phil.

  2. Nick
    June 29th, 2009 at 13:06 | #2

    Recently discovered your blog and just wanted to express my appreciation. Have been working my way through the soul posts and have enjoyed both music and writing. The twattery posts are a blast. As Mr Mayfield put it with so much class, keep on keeping on.

  3. June 30th, 2009 at 03:09 | #3

    Hey! Cool! Sorry, that sounded lame, but it’s what I thought as I read this. Hadn’t heard this guy before, so now I have to seek out some more of his music. Thanks for that!

    Also, I read this:

    “(it never rains in nostalgia, except when rain was a reason to feel good)”

    and thought, ‘Now, that’s not true, I have lots of — heyyy, it IS true!’ and actually laughed out loud. Never noticed that before. Hee hee.

  4. August 5th, 2009 at 07:02 | #4

    This is possibly my favorite Rouse album, and I’m a pretty big fan. I love his take on the concept album as a whole. In my book he could do one of each year and that would be fine with me.

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